Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Schizophrenia and murder - extremely unlikely but hard to predict

Despite lurid newspaper headlines violent crimes by people with schizophrenia are relatively rare and violent crimes against strangers rarer still. Researchers from the University of New South Wales joined with colleagues in Canada, Finland and the Netherlands to look into this issue and found that the rate of homicides of strangers by people with schizophrenia is about one in fourteen million; the same as that of winning the lottery. The study also compared the characteristics of people with schizophrenia who murdered strangers to those of people who killed family members. It found that those who killed strangers were more likely to be homeless and to have a history of antisocial conduct. The victims were more likely to be male and the murders rarely took place in the victim's home or workplace. More than half of those who killed either strangers or family members had never received treatment for their condition. The researchers pointed out that although murders of strangers by people with schizophrenia are extremely rare they are also just as difficult to predict as - because of their rarity - there is very little information for researchers to go on.

You can find out more about this research at


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